Early 05 I bought an album on a whim which I put in the car and instantly turned off about half way through the first track. This should have been a clue as a fair few of the albums I have come to love the most gave me the same first reaction.....
Actually, as it turned out a couple of months later and subsequently, I just don't like the first track all that much. But from track two onwards.... now we are rootin' tootin' talkin'.
The album is Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge by My Chemical Romance and it became pretty much my favourite rock album of 05 and 06. I've probably played it more than anything else in that time. Well definitely. Apparently the band might be considered to be a bit 'emo' but that all seems a bit pointless as a desciption to me. There is some absolutely slamming rock in there which probably reached its highest validation when Kerrang voted them Best Rock Act in the world earlier this year. Quietly the album turned multi-platinum even though no single ever threatened to do much at release in the US - I think the highest was a 30 and previously a 60 in the Billboard Top 100. But the album turned multi-platinum. Pretty much one of those albums that has spread by dint of its inherent quality. They even come from New Jersey for heavens sakes. This is not an LA band blowing up on the LA rock scene.
Forward-wind to a couple of weeks ago and you can see the Sun and other redtops going "who on earth are these weirdos" as the single Welcome to the Black Parade went straight in at No.1 in the UK. This monday the album the Black Parade was released and it is one of those albums that I am gonna raise to the collective conscious and say you *have* to listen to this.
The Black Parade is an album by a band who have obviously reached mind-bending levels of self-confidence where the band have just taken off for another level again and probably left 'contemporaries' like Panic at the Disco (a very pale reflection and different) and older alternative muso's like Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins pouring themselves a very stiff carrot juice indeed.
If you don't like the type of music you'll probably find yourself on one polar end of the reaction against this. If you do, I think you'll find one of the rock albums of the decade so far and a work that is getting compared to a number of classics from a very long time span indeed. Its punchy, its melodic, as I say it's ridiculously confident in the way it just hares about all over the place doing whatever the fuck it likes and it's just damn good.
You have to have some planetary sized cahonas just to come up with the idea in the first place; it's a concept album about 'The Patient' who lies ill on a cancer ward with the songs about his life and the illness but it is not some dark horror movie as much as a lot of punchy driving music interspersed with some very fine melodic pieces and massive stacked voices. The themes that are cropping up are weddings, funerals, hospitals, childhood, mardi gras, festivals, vaudeville, murder, cabaret. There's a modern rock take on a very long standing tradition in just the same way that the film Cabaret is dark and twisted but not miserabilist. And then as if just to underline the point in the middle of one of the most rock tracks on the album, Liza Minelli turns up - not as a sample but doing a cameo vocal written for the track!
This band released their first album in summer 2002 - I Brought You Bullets You Brought Me Your Love. It was on an indie label and to be honest it's mostly a mess and quite ill formed.
In Summer 2004, we get Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge with an exponential leap in quality which is like watching a gangly awkward teenager suddenly coming out for the ball as the hottest thing around.
Now we have the Black Parade which I am pretty sure, whether you end up enjoying it or not, is not just one of but probably the rock album of the decade so far. As much as I enjoy this and the previous album, the one thing that leaves me really absolutely, totally agog is just how far this band have come in a measily four years. I honestly cannot think of another trajectory like it in a band's career at the moment. Possibly Radiohead from Pablo Honey --> Bends --> OK Computer. Now for heavens sake don't think I am comparing these two bands - I am just looking at the trajectory of improvement. But to be honest Pablo Honey was a lot better relative than MCR's first album so the MCR climb-rate is still a lot faster.
So whether you end up liking it or not there is something pretty extraordinary going on with this band and I recommend you bend your head around it at least a couple of times - this is a complex record that could take a bit of getting into - but for those of you that like it, I reckon you'll like it really a lot....